Office of Medical Student Wellness

The Office of Medical Student Wellness provides student life advising, wellness programming and learning environment initiatives to enable students to thrive academically and personally throughout their medical school experience. Our aim is to foster a safe and supportive learning environment.

  • The following principles inform our work:
  • To empower students to develop their professional identity, and find meaning within their medical school experience
  • To enable students to succeed as lifelong leaders
  • To embrace the value of diversity and personal growth throughout the journey
  • To encourage self-care, resiliency, wellness and the pursuit of one’s passions
  • To engage all individuals in the promotion of a sense of belonging within the community

Student Life Advising

The Associate Dean with the Office of Medical Student Wellness is a confidential resource to help students resolve personal issues that may affect academic life. She is  points of contact for students who wish to discuss sensitive or personal topics or to obtain advice of a non-academic nature.

Students are encouraged to bring issues that impact their life decisions, well-being and academic performance. Issues appropriate for OMSW include the following:

  • Interpersonal conflicts or misunderstandings
  • Struggles with the stresses of school, family or social life
  • Uncertain career direction
  • Questions regarding professionalism

The Associate Dean is also available to discuss the possible need for referral for:

  • Medical care
  • Psychological therapy
  • Drug/alcohol dependency treatment
  • Tutoring
  • Study skills improvement
  • Harassment
  • Financial problems
  • Legal advice

Confidentiality Policy

The freedom to discuss concerns without there being any influence on a student’s evaluation or grade is an essential component of our work at OMSW. As a general rule, we provide a confidential environment.

It is worth bearing in mind, however, that unlike discussions with an attorney, psychiatrist, ombudsperson or clergy, communications to OMSW are not shielded by law. There are situations where the University may be required to take some action to address these concerns and we may need to disclose. These include concerns relating to race and gender discrimination, sexual harassment or the personal safety of the student/others.

Wellness and Mental Health Resources


Stanford School of Medicine is committed to providing a work and educational environment that is inclusive and conducive to teaching and learning, research, the practice of medicine, and patient care and takes all mistreatment related concerns seriously. Please visit the School of Medicine Learning Environment website for more information on reporting mistreatment in the learning environment.

Policies & Protocols

The School of Medicine participates in a group medical disability policy in which student's are automatically enrolled.  A mandatory $40 fee is assessed during winter quarter and cannot be waived. The fee is reflected as “Pre-Enrolled Med Disblty Ins” on your student account. Students who qualify for long term disability receive monthly benefits of $1,500 to $2,000 (based on their year of training), and student loan payoff provision of up to $225,000. If you have questions, or need to file a claim, please contact Margaret Govea in the Office of Medical Student Wellness at or (650) 721-3963.

Programs & Events

  • The Stanford Wilderness Education Active orientation Trip (SWEAT) is a three-day pre-matriculation camping trip for incoming medical and MSPA students organized by OMSW and aided by second-year students. The Stanford Medicine Alumni Association assists in sponsoring SWEAT which is designed to build students’ sense of belonging to the Stanford Medicine community, foster relationships that last throughout medical school, and build students’ confidence to tackle the physical and mental challenges that medical school brings. In 2023, over 80% of incoming students participated in the elective trip. Information including dates for SWEAT and Alternate SWEAT (1-day option) is provided in the packet that admitted students receive in June.

Curricular Initiatives

Pre-clerkship Curriculum

OMSW participates in New Student Orientation by leading a session entitled Promoting Personal Wellness and staffing several wellness-related tables at the Resource Fair. We also encourage students to register for wellness elective courses, and we provide additional curricular resources and support for sensitive topics identified in the pre-clerkship curriculum.

Clerkship Curriculum

OMSW hosts the annual Transition to Clerkship Retreat at Fat the end of Quarter 6. The purpose of this annual retreat for students transitioning from the pre-clerkship to clerkship curriculum is to celebrate the completion of their classroom education and learn about life in clerkships. Additionally, students have the opportunity to interact with faculty leaders from their first clerkship and attend a keynote talk pertaining to their shift from the classroom to clinical settings. Past keynote speakers  include authors and experts in wellness.

  • 2014: Carol Dweck, PhD - Developing a Growth Mindset  
  • 2016 and 2017: Lucy Kalanithi, MD - Coping with Planned and Unplanned Transitions
  • 2018: Tait Shanafelt, MD - Building Resiliency to Avoid Physician Burnout
  • 2019: Dereca Blackmon - Having Difficult Conversations with Positive Outcomes & Jane Lemaire, MD - Why Physician Wellness Matters
  • 2020: Abraham Verghese, MD - Medicine: Unchanged Through Antiquity
  • 2021: Lee Jones, MD - Change, Challenges, & Progress: Connection and Well-Being are not Optimal & Paloma Marin-Nevarez, MD:The Most Important Question of Medical School, and Other Tidbits of Advice from a Current Intern
  • 2022: Arghavan Salles, MD, PhD - Clerkship Survival: How to Remain Yourself Through Medical Training
  • 2023: Kelley Skeff, MD, PhD - Making the Most of Your Clinical Time
  • 2024: Kelley Skeff, MD, PhD  

OMSW also co-facilitates Rounds for clerkship students to facilitate reflection on their interactions with patients.

Student Leadership

Student wellness leaders are change agents within the School of Medicine, building a culture of holistic well‐being by developing initiatives that promote sense of belonging, student empowerment, and self-care. We empower medical students and the broader medical school community to reach their full potential and be bold in their commitment to self‐care and service to others.

OMSW collaborates closely with the Stanford Medical Student Association Wellness Team, a group of students within the medical student governing body who also focus on promoting wellness. Since 2014, student wellness leaders have been instrumental in helping to plan OMSW’s major events and have also developed their own programs including reflection groups, a big sib program, and an advice guide for first-year students.

Student Wellness Research

A critical component of OMSW’s work involves ongoing assessment of medical students’ wellness needs and evaluation of our wellness programs.

Contact Us

  • If the matter is urgent, please call 650-723-6661, identify yourself as a medical student, and the page operator will call Dr. Honkanen's cell phone.
  • Margaret Govea
  • Director, Medical Student Wellness
  • MSOB X1C40, 1265 Welch Road
  • Phone: (650) 721-3963
  • Sophia Yevoo, MA
  • Student Services Specialist
  • Wellness and Mental Health Team
  • MSOB X1C42, 1265 Welch Road